HITS Daily Double
9 Songs certainly stirred my, unh, juices with a story of sex, drugs and rock & roll that rivals Last Tango in Paris as one of the most explicit non-pornos to ever hit the art circuit.


You’ve Been Burning the Candle at Both Ends, From the Super Bowl Parties Through Grammy Week. Now It’s Time to Detox and Figure Out That Critical Valentine’s Day Gesture
1. Grammy Awards: While I was busy schmoozing at the après-awards show functions (see below), the show itself was being TiVo’d, so I’ll hold my judgment on that except to ask Macca, “What made you think ‘Helter Skelter’ was an appropriate choice to play?” I’ve officially given up trying to guess what the Recording Academy is thinking because it’s always been out of touch, but this year it seems the graybeards are the Boomers, tapping U2 and Green Day for major awards, and rewarding pop divas and rappers only in the genre categories. Not that I’m a huge fan of either Mariah Carey or Gwen Stefani, but the feeling was their populist anthems captured the current music zeitgeist more than the two albums from the aforementioned bands, both of which have been out for a year and a half, and seemed, at least to this observer, like yesterday’s news. That said, the only sure Grammy bet every year is that the immortal Jimmy Sturr & His Orchestra, going on 19 nominations and 15 wins in 20 years, will win the Polka award. And to get killed in the ratings by American Idol’s cattle call segment is truly embarrassing. As for the show itself, let me sit down with the TiVo and I’ll give you my take. Roy Trakin

Post-Grammy Parties: Gone are the glory days of the late-’90s of giant lobsters and bottomless buckets of champagne. The whole annual process of who gets to go and not go is disheartening for a business that thrives on privilege, hierarchy and getting to the most exclusive room possible. The UMG shindig at the Palm downtown was cool only because I arrived early (thanks to super corporate PR guy Peter LoFrumento for the heads-up) and was ushered into the upstairs VIP room with Doug, Zach, Jimmy, Mel, Sylvia, Monte, Ron, Jordan, Polly and the rest of the gang, as Iovine huddled with a Pussycat Doll and newly signed reggaeton superstar Daddy Yankee (and whiz kid A&R exec 3H), Doug conversed with Mary J. Blige, and Nelly flashed that grill while he talked, practically blinding me. My big thrill was getting to tell a delighted SNL star Andy Samberg how much I dug the video he did with fellow cast member Chris Parnell, “Lazy Sunday (Chronic of Narnia Rap)” only to learn he and his partners got their start with Joel Gallen at the MTV Movie Awards show. Leaving the Palm, we headed to the Sony BMG party at the Roosevelt Hotel (thank you, John McKay), where we spotted Britney Spears and K-Fed making their entrance (thankfully not with their baby or in a car), while the great Pasha, Clive himself, was whisked in and back to, you guessed it, a VIP room. And while the likes of ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, the fantastic T Bone Burnett and The O.C.’s Mischa Barton (as People’s Carrie Borzillo-Vrenna followed her into the ladies’ room) were hanging with all the losers, like us, who couldn’t get past the velvet rope, the whole exclusionary process was a bummer. We never even bothered to check whether our name was actually on the list to get to the inner sanctum, opting to split for the New York set on the Paramount lot to see what was happening at the EMI shindig, which is traditionally the wildest of the night going back to the heyday of party girl Nancy Berry. There, we ran into Doobie Brother/Steely Dan guitarist and U.S. security expert Jeff “Skunk” Baxter and several British execs from Parlophone, who lamented how America could reward such soulless, “by-the-numbers” pop as Kelly Clarkson with a Grammy, then waxed enthusiastic about Arctic Monkeys. Ya gotta love the Brits—still true believers in the authenticity of great rock. And I was, too, until the rotating bar made me a little queasy and the chill in the evening air sent me for cover, without even a single Paris Hilton sighting the entire night. —RT

Wholphin: This DVD from A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius author Dave Eggars is an audio/visual version of his literary journal and publishing company McSweeney’s, compiling short video pieces that were rejected elsewhere, by directors like Miguel Arteta (Chuck and Buck) with Miranda July (Me and You and Everyone We Know) and David O. Russell (I [Heart] Huckabees). There’s also a Turkish sitcom version of The Jeffersons, with a half-dozen writers supplying different subtitles that change the context. The highlight, though, is Spike Jonze’s 13-minute documentary on Al Gore shot in the summer before the 2000 election. Jonze was invited by Gore’s people to spend time with the family at his Tennessee home to film a piece they could use on the campaign to humanize the presidential candidate, and he succeeded beyond a loyal Dem’s wildest dreams. And while the final result was shown just once, at the Democratic Convention that summer, it depicts a folksy side of Gore, all self-deprecating and earnest, that we never saw during the election, making fun of his own stiffness at the same time as he’s shown as a warm, loving family man with a strong idealistic streak and a penchant for body surfing. It might not be overstating the case to say, if this short was more widely shown, the recent history of our country might be a whole lot different. —RT

4. 9 Songs: Michael Winterbottom
, the English director who made one of the great rock movies of all time in 24 Hour Party People, confounded everyone with this 75-minute film that teeters between pornography and erotic art, and critics felt it succeeded as neither. It certainly stirred my, unh, juices with its story of sex, drugs and rock & roll that rivals Last Tango in Paris as one of the most explicit non-pornos to ever hit the art film circuit. And while Winterbottom sort of loses his nerve by casting a pair of non-professionals in the main roles, it’s hard to imagine any “name” actors or actresses being as, unh, naked, as the movie’s stars, Kieran O’Brien and Margo Stilley. The concept is that the two meet at a Brixton Academy concert by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and then attend a series of shows by Primal Scream, Dandy Warhols, Elbow, Franz Ferdinand, the Von Bondies, Super Furry Animals and pianist Michael Nyman, all captured by a hand-held camera from the crowd, alternating with progressively steamier (and more outré) sex acts, leaving nothing to the imagination. Of course, one person’s erotica is another’s banality, so there’s no pleasing everyone, but the juxtaposition of music, passion and artificial stimulants creates a titillating atmosphere of sexual brinksmanship that ultimately, and inevitably, lets you down in post-coital depression. But kudos to this guy for at least trying. —RT

Coldplay at the Forum, L.A.: It’s hard to tell why there’s so much critical backlash against these guys. Sure, Chris Martin tries really hard to ingratiate himself with the audience—maybe too hard, you might argue, as he apologizes for everything from the traffic jams that made it a close-to-three-hour trek from the Valley to the length of his hair to fluffing a note in the acoustic “Till Kingdom Come.” The band still puts on a great show, though this arena version of last year’s shed tour is virtually identical in every way, even if the group is tighter than a drum. Guitarist Jonny Buckland is the best pop lickmaster this side of The Edge, with his riffs on “Talk” and “White Shadows” (which continues to remind me of the chorus from “When Doves Cry”) carving out lush melodies and hooks galore, anchored steadily by the rhythm section of bassist Guy Berryman and drummer Will Champion. While telling the guys from Parlophone (Coldplay’s U.K. label) at the EMI Grammy party that I was trying to convert the Coldplaya hatas, I realized this band is not what’s wrong with the record industry today, but what’s right. In fact, we could use about 20 new Coldplays right now... Come to think about it, we’ve already got ‘em. —RT

Brent’s Deli, Northridge: You can take your overpriced Jerry’s and Solley’s (though I’ll leave out Langer’s and their legendary hand-carved pastrami sandwiches)... The best deli in L.A. is located in a nondescript strip mall at 19565 Parthenia St. (between Tampa and Winnetka). If it’s not up to Noo Yawk standard-bearers like the Carnegie Deli, Katz’s or the soon-to-be-shuttered Second Avenue Deli, it’s still head-and-shoulders (and some corned beef on rye) above the competition, which is why there are always lines out the door from around 5 p.m. onwards. Walk in, sign up and have yourself a steaming bowl of matzoh ball soup... I feel better already. —RT

Neil Young, Prairie Wind (Reprise) DVD: This Grammy-nominated album, so simple and so evocative of much of his past work, has been creeping its way into my consciousness slowly but surely. And while I’m looking forward to seeing Heart of Gold, Jonathan Demme’s documentary of Young’s performance last year at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, which opens today, the DVD that comes with the special-edition commercial CD release offers a fascinating glimpse at the recording of the album. Utilizing a split-screen format that shows the actual parts being laid down in what looks like real time, it’s a true glimpse at how an album is made, piece by piece, until it’s an organic whole. What comes across is the family atmosphere and commitment of all the participants to Young’s singular vision, with the enigmatic singer/songwriter himself channeling his emotions as they play across his face and into his music. Absolutely remarkable, especially the stirring “It’s a Dream,” the answer song to After the Gold Rush’s “Don’t Let It Bring You Down” and its wistful but optimistic verse, “It’s only castles burning... Find someone who’s turning and you will come around.” —RT

8. The Golden Girls: We weren’t a fan of this venerable mid-’80s/early-’90s sitcom in its heyday, but caught up with it when a friend made us watch the reruns on Lifetime, and it turned out to be one of the more sexually subversive shows, not just of its time, but any time. In fact, some of the double entendres and old-age jibes that get flung back and forth between stars Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty would barely get past the censors today. Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry was a writer on the Susan Harris-created/Gail Parent-penned show, and his sarcastic, cheeky take is as fresh today as it was then. —RT

Be Here To Love Me: A Film About Townes Van Zandt: Van Zandt wrote songs like Japanese pen and ink paintings: spare, lean, essential. To hear "No Place to Fall" or "St. John the Gambler" is to understand the power of economy in the heart of a poet. Quite possibly schizophrenic, certainly too tender for the world in which we live, yet a high-stakes bravado-slinger when in an altered state, Van Zandt's life was as transfixing as his songs. Director Margaret Brown spent five years quilting together snippets and patches of a life lived polemically—and in that roller-coaster sweep, she creates a strong witness to the man whose songs have been recorded by Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard ("Pancho & Lefty"), Emmylou Harris and Don Williams ("If I Needed You") as well as roots/soul queen Jonelle Mosser, who devoted a whole album to Van Zandt covers. In his eternal conflict of the soul, the man’s willingness to throw himself into the tumult of life, often in ill-advised ways, and the fragility of his truths imbue this film with a riveting narrative line. Seek it out. —Holly Gleason

10. Classic Rock:
Yet another genius British rock magazine, this one devoted to exhaustively researched and interviewed articles about bands that plug in and pound down. And while the Jurassic aspect of classic rock makes it seem tied to an atrophying reality, there are plenty of new/young bands plying an oeuvre that may not be large with the critical press but directly connects with kids all over the world. So whether it's Billy Gibbons writing his own piece about ZZ Top's formative years, a look at the whys and hows of Queen's A Night at the Opera, which introduced the notion of operatic grandiosity to pop radio via "Bohemian Rhapsody," or a look at whatever happened to the Nymphs and the always irrepressible Inger Lorre, Classic Rock has you covered. Extensive enough to cover whatever aspect you're craving in the stories that somehow slipped away untold, reviews to guarantee every rock is turned over and a CD to reinforce that particular issue make this a guilty pleasure you can almost justify. —HG

Have you seen the Hines Ward “I’m goin' to Disneyworld!” ad? Including the “...and I’m takin the Bus” tag with Ward next to Bettis? GREATEST COMMERCIAL IN THE HISTORY OF COMMERCIALS. In the history of SPORTS commercials anyway. OK, in the history of “I’m goin' to DISNEYWORLD” commercials, for sure. I mean, come on! If you know ANYTHING about this saga, especially, of course, if like me, you are enough of a Steelers or NFL follower to remember tough-as-nails Ward unashamedly sobbing for The Bus after losing to the Pats in last year’s Championship… How can this ad not make a grown man weep? I cry for happy every time I see it. It’s every great sentimental sports movie boiled down into 30 seconds. Whoever came up with the idea to have that tag is a fucking GENIUS. The ad, unfortunately, is a jillion times better than the Super Bowl itself was, of course, and therein lies the irony (the steelery?): The very hypesmanship that occasions “I’m goin’ to Disneyworld!” ads is undoubtedly what made the Steelers AND Seahawks so fucking tight they were both ready to snap... In their own ways, the Steelers could get nothing started; the Seahawks could get nothing finished. I do believe the better team won, but the poor level of overall play and the highly questionable officiating (ticky-tacky pass int. call costing Seattle TD and, I admit it… No, I did not think Ben got in in real time, nor on replay, but it did look so close... I knew right away they’d never overturn the call on the field) tragically obscured the truly magnificent historic achievement of the Steelers fighting for their lives from Week 13 on, beating the #3, 1 and 2 seeds in their division on the road, trouncing #1 and #2 in two of the three most hostile environments in the NFL… etc…--Michael Shore

Friday, Feb. 10th

Conjunto Primavera @ Gibson Amphitheater, Universal City

Hawthorne Heights @ Headliners, Toledo, OH

Grizzlies vs. Clippers @ Staples Center (FSW2): The Clippers, winners of nine of their last 11, return home from their longest road trip of the season for a match-up against slumping Memphis. The Grizzlies will be coming in hungry, so the Clippers need to come out firing on all cylinders.

Winterfresh SnoCore '06 featuring Seether, Shinedown, Flyleaf and HaleStorm @ Pop's, Sauget, IL

Handy Award Nominee Zac Harmon & the Mid-South Revue @ Martini Blues, Huntington Beach

Saturday, Feb. 11th
UCLA Bruins vs. Washington Huskies @ Bank of America Arena, Seattle (CBS)

Yellowcard @ Jillian's, Las Vegas

Less than Jake w/ DaMone @ Mississippi Nights, St. Louis

Porcelain @ The Viper Room.

Dwight Yoakam @ House of Blues (Downtown Disney), Anaheim

Galactic w/ The Golden Eagles @ House of Blues Sunset

Sunday, Feb 12th
Stoney Curtis Band @ The Motherlode, Hesperia, CA

Social Distortion w/ Red Radar Gun @ House of Blues (Downtown Disney), Anaheim

Bulls vs. Clippers @ Staples Center (FSW2)

I reviewed these movies last week as well because the movie selection from last week sucked. So, in case you didn’t get a chance to read the Planner last week (shame on you if you didn’t), here the reviews are again.

Curious George
Will Ferrell, Drew Barrymore, David Cross, Eugene Levy and Dick Van Dyke
Synopsis: The Man in the Yellow Hat accidentally transplants a curious young monkey, George, from the jungle to the big city.
Thoughts: OK, here is the deal: My girlfriend really wants to see this movie, so I am going to see the movie. However, I don’t mind seeing it because I always liked Curious George when I was little, and it will probably be fun!

Final Destination 3
Starring: Ryan Merriman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Texas Battle, Gina Holden
and Dustin Milligan
A high school senior has a premonition in which she dies in a roller coaster accident along with three of her friends. She uses her knowledge of the future event to cheat death … but the Grim Reaper isn't happy about that and comes to seek his revenge.
I’ve seen the first two so it’s too late to stop now. The death scenes are pretty harsh—definitely not for those with weak stomachs.

Pink Panther
Steve Martin, Jean Reno, Beyoncé Knowles, Kevin Kline and David Beckham
A famous soccer celeb is murdered and his ring stolen—a ring set with the Pink Panther diamond. Chief Inspector Dreyfus assigns the case to Inspector Jacques Clouseau, a man with a penchant for bumbling his way to success, and Gendarme Gilbert Ponton, a stuffy Frenchman. Along for the ride: International pop superstar Xania.
Thoughts: Something tells me this movie is going to be really stupid, considering what a great cast it has and the fact that they are opening it in a month when only flops come out, but I still find myself wanting to see it. Steve Martin always has a way to make me laugh, and I am hoping he can instead of making me walk out in the middle of the movie.

Neil Young: Heart of Gold
Starring: Neil Young, Emmylou Harris, Ben Keith, Spooner Oldham
and Rick Rosas
Filmmaker Jonathan Demme's intimate portrait of Neil Young proves that the singer/songwriter is still going strong after suffering a brain aneurysm in 2005. The film, which follows Young on a return trip to Nashville to premiere Prairie Wind live in concert, premiered last week at the Sundance Film Festival.
Thoughts: I saw the trailer for this movie the other day and I really want to see it. Neil Young is one of my favorite artists and to see an intimate story about this amazing singer/songwriter after he suffered a brain aneurysm will be truly special.